Scott Graves
Curry Coastal Pilot

I live in a rural area where it’s common to see animals and livestock on the road. Usually it’s one or two cows, but sometimes it’s an entire herd, sipping margaritas and trying to hitch a ride to a Justin Bieber concert. (The teen heartthrob is a hit with the bovine crowd.)

Why — in this day and age of smartphones, satellites and GPS trackers — do cows still get loose and wander onto the road? With today’s technology, you’d think a savvy entrepreneur could easily come up with a way to keep the bovines at bay. (I’d do it myself but I’m busy writing columns about cows with rotten musical tastes.) For example, why not hang motion-sensitive speakers on pasture fences? When triggered by a cow, the speaker would broadcast a pre-recorded voice: “Stop! Or you’ll be turned into a Big Mac!”

Why do cows wander onto the road? Maybe it’s the chickens.

Chicken No. 1: “Psssst. Hey cow. We crossed the road the other night and it was awesome.”

Chicken No. 2 (quietly unlatching the cows’ gate): “Yay! You guys have to try it.”

I have another theory: The cows are jealous of the local celebrity elk. The large, multi-prong creatures often feed along local roads, drawing the attention of perfectly sane motorists who yell “ELK!” slam on the brakes and get out to take photographs. The cows know it’s hard to compete with that, but they try.

Cow No. 1: “Bob, I’m feeling a little underappreciated today.”

Cow No. 2: “I know! Let’s stand in the middle of the road and get our photo taken!”

Cow No. 1: “Great idea! I’ll grab the margaritas.”

Of course cows are not nearly as entertaining as elk, no matter how much alcohol they consume. When cows block the road, it’s like Armageddon. Angry motorists, late for a Justin Bieber concert, call the police, who call the U.S. National Guard, who call the president of the United States, who redirects all our nuclear missiles away from North Korea to the cows’ location.

Whoa! Hold on there, folks. Let’s save those nukes for Justin Bieber. We can all avoid World War III if we just practice a little patience. If you’re driving down the road and cows are blocking the way, trying doing one of these things:

• Tell them a McDonald’s meat buyer is in the neighborhood.

• Tell them the Justin Bieber concert has been canceled.

• Mix up some margaritas on the side of the road and tell them it’s an open bar.

In India, where there are about 5 million stray cows clogging city streets, a clever engineer has developed an alert system for drivers.

According to a story in the Hindustan Times (I’m not making that up), his system uses a dashboard camera and an algorithm that can determine whether an object near a vehicle is a cow and if its movements pose a threat. A quick-acting audio or visual indicator nudges the driver to apply the brakes. However, the system’s algorithm has not been adjusted yet for night-time driving, so researchers recommend that nocturnal motorists drive slowly and avoid blasting Justin Bieber songs from the radio.

“The proposed system achieved an overall efficiency of 80 percent in terms of cow detection,” said the engineer in a study published in the Indian Journal of Electrical Engineering and Cow Science.

The remaining 20 percent?

Researchers found them at a nearby ranch drinking margaritas with chickens.


Scott Graves was editor of the Curry Coastal Pilot from September 2000 to November 2017. He can be reached by calling 541-469-3123 or